By Christian Radnedge
LONDON (Reuters) – The Football Association (FA) said it would be reviewing whether to light Wembley’s arch in blue and white in solidarity with Israel after receiving criticism for not doing so last week, CEO Mark Bullingham said on Thursday.
Wembley, the home of England’s national football team, has previously lit up its iconic arch with the colours of Ukraine, Turkey and other countries in solidarity.
However, it did not do so for Israel following attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas on Oct. 7 ahead of England games against Australia and Italy. The decision was criticised by the British government and by the Israel Football Association president Moshe Zuares.
Bullingham said the English governing body had immediately conveyed its horror at the attacks to the Israeli FA and had sought guidance from experts before deciding to wear black armbands and have a minute’s silence at the games to mark the conflict.
“The last thing we ever wanted to do in this situation was to add to the hurt. We aren’t asking for everyone to agree with our decision,” Bullingham said at the Leaders sports business conference in London.
“It would be easy for football to ask why we’re the only sport being talked about in this way, particularly when rugby and cricket in the middle of their World Cups…
“However… we understand that the power of football means it will always be in the spotlight and that’s just something we have to accept.
“Finally, this week has made us question whether we should light the arch and when – and we’ll be reviewing that in the coming weeks.”
The next England matches at Wembley will be when the men’s team faces Malta on Nov. 17 before the women’s side play the Netherlands on Dec. 1.
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Alex Richardson)